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ASB adopts mobile working solution

17 October 2003


ASB adopts mobile working solution

ASB Bank has launched a limited deployment of 25 Toshiba Portege tablets for remote working staff that will provide them with real-time access to customer and bank data from anywhere within New Zealand’s 027 network.

This is believed to be the first time in New Zealand that remote working bank staff will have full, wireless access to such information in real time.

The deployment will enable a wide range of bank functions to be performed away from the office. For instance, the bank’s mobile mortgage managers will be able to complete mortgage applications electronically from customers’ homes. Under the Electronic Transactions Act, signatures are now acceptable when signed directly on to an electronic screen.

ASB Bank has completed extensive field trials, during which it tested a number of tablets before selecting the Toshiba hardware, which will operate over Telecom’s CDMA network via a mobile wireless GTRAN card.

“The trials and our planning processes were thorough because we wanted to ensure all questions over reliability, speed and security were answered,” Group Manager, ASB Online Steve Jurkovich said.

“We looked at the network choices available but chose Telecom’s 027 CDMA network because we see it as the country’s fastest and most secure mobile network, and because of the high service levels they could offer.

“For us, security is the backbone of our business. Nothing else takes a higher priority. We’re dealing with highly sensitive customer data on these tablets, so we need to know that the data was not only safe during transmission but if a staff member’s tablet was lost or stolen that no customer details would be accessible to the wrong hands. We are confident that this technology secures this.”

The tablets use Citrix thin client software to access data held at the bank’s central server, meaning files are as secure as if users were working from their office PC. The bank’s contracted project managers, Axon, integrated the IP-based platform.

The tablets offer pressure sensitive pen input with handwriting recognition on a near-A4 sized screen. The screen can be turned 180 degrees to enable customer viewing of information while a staff member uses the keyboard.

Bank users are able to access their usual software applications, as well as CRM systems specific to their needs. Users currently come from more than 10 divisions within the bank, including the ASB Bank Executive Team, Personal Banking, Business Banking, Rural, Mobile Lending Managers and Internal Audit.

After two months the initial 25 users will be surveyed to gauge benefits such as time saved by not having to return to the office to download and upload information.

“Based on the benefits already discernable, a much wider rollout of tablets to staff is envisaged,” Mr Jurkovich said.

“I can see a time in the very near future when most of our procurement will be tablets rather than standard laptops.”


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